What is it about cars (and trucks and vans, etc.) that so completely alters our personalities? When I sneeze in a grocery store, gym or other public venue people fall over themselves to shower blessings on me as though I just christened their first born. Never mind that I actually spewed germs and bacteria for all to inhale and probably have something nasty dangling from my nose. Everyone wants me to feel blessed. Ten minutes later in my car the most munificent blesser of my nasal secretions gives me the finger from her minivan as she cuts me off to get out of the parking lot. It is as if we must remove our humanity to enter our cars. Normal rules of courtesy no longer apply and other cars are not transports being used by people; they are soulless competitors destined to lengthen our commute by 90 seconds for some unknown diabolical purpose. Hostility foments behind a steering wheel until it spills out in gestures and expletives that would make our grandmothers ashamed to know us. (This, of course, assumes your grandmother didn’t just make an obscene gesture at you and call you something you need to Google to see if she is using it correctly. Perhaps you should not have passed her for going twenty miles under the speed limit.)
I confess. I too find it easier to hate everyone not in my vehicle when driving. I think it is something about not actually seeing the person, just the vehicle. It is easy to pretend there is no human on the other end of our tirade (like blogging?). This theory has garnered support by the way people treat me when riding my motorcycle. If they actually see me, which is rare, they are friendly and polite. When I look around at a red light I am a curious human taking in my surroundings. The same casual glance to the side while in my car is tantamount to a declaration of war. I’ve looked to the car next to me and started to return their wave when I discovered they weren’t waving with their whole hand. Apparently I violated their space by looking in their direction. When I am on my bike people wave with their whole hand, not just one digit. They smile, give me the thumbs up, and sometimes even roll down their window to compliment my motorcycle. On my bike I feel like I’m sneezing all the time and everyone is bestowing blessings on me. Maybe we should all just ride motorcycles and enjoy the love. Gesundheit!